How to Read the Secret Expiration Codes on Candy Bars

Lots of candy bars are coded with secret expiration dates. It makes it easy for outdated candy to be bought by unsuspecting consumers.

Several of the major candy companies have their own special dating codes, and we’ve uncovered some of them for you! With some practice, you’ll be able to instantly tell if the candy bar you want to buy is fresh or not.

Ferrera Pan Candy Company, the maker of Red Hots, Lemonheads, Jawbreakers, and Boston Baked Beans, posts the production date, not the expiration date on the box. Even after we tell you how to decipher the date, it’s up to you to figure out if you think the candy is worth buying. They do not indicate the shelf life on their candy boxes, but we do know that Red Hots have a life expectancy of two years! A sample six digit code on a box of Lemonheads is: 8C0432 .The 8 stands for 2008. C is for March (A would be January, B February), and 04 means the fourth day of the month. The last two digits are of no concern to us.

NECCO, or New England Candy Company, uses the Julian Calendar for their production date coding. Some of their candies are: Necco Wafers, Mary Janes, Sky Bar, Clark Bar, Banana Splits, and Candy Buttons on Paper. NECCO told us that a Sky Bar has a shelf life of eighteen months. They also use a six digit code. This is a sample: 320772. The first and last digits are for company use only, and of no interest to us. The second, third, and fourth digits are the day of production, according to the Julian Calendar. This would be July 26. The fifth digit, which is 7, is the last digit of the year of production. The production date is July 26, 2007.

(A simplified compressed reference guide to the Julian Calendar is: January 001 – 031, February 032 – 059, March 060 – 090 April 091 – 120, May 121 – 151, June 152 – 181, July 182 – 212, August 213 – 243, September 244 – 273, October 274 – 304, November 305 – 334, and December 335 –365.)

Farley & Sathers, makers of Chuckles, Jujubes, Jujyfruit, and Now & Later, have their secret code, too. This one is a production date. Let’s look at the code of: 8345CX. The first digit is the year of production, so this is 2008. The next three digits, 345, are from the Julian Calendar. This would be December 11. The last two letters are of no use to us.

Zagnut, Zero, Good & Plenty, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are all made by Hershey’s. They use a fairly simple expiration code on their candy. It consists of a number which designates the last number of the year, and a letter which stands for the month. A is January, B is February, C is March, etc. 8C would mean that the candy expires on March 2008.

Wrigleys has a six digit expiration code which stands for DDMMYY. 280409 would mean that you should chew your Juicy Fruit gum on or before April 28, 2009.

Cambridge Brands, a subsidiary of Tootsie Roll, makes such candy as Junior Mints, Tootsie Rolls, Dots, and Charleston Chew. They stamp a production date and use a code consisting of seven numbers and letters. A code L047325 is found on a box of Junior Mints. The L stands for the month, which would be December. 04 is the day, and 7 would be 2007. The last three digits are of no concern to us. This candy was manufactured on December 4, 2007.

Nestle, maker of Chunky, Wonka Bars, Nerd Ropes, Baby Ruth, and Laffy Taffy, uses a production code. Let’s look at: 7144BWB18G. The first digit 7, is the last digit in the year of production. 144 is the Julian Day of manufacture which is May 24. The rest of the numbers and letters are of no value to us.

Now that you know how to decipher the secret candy code, you can do some detective work. You’ll never buy stale candy again!